Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is widely praised, but not without controversy. The scoring, which costs five points to the player for each clue taken, is often declared to be at odds with the narrative. In fact, many players and even critics recommend ignoring it completely.
I disagree. I believe the scoring is not only an integral part of the game, but an important driver of its aesthetics.
If you’ve played cooperative games, you might have heard of the “alpha player”. The guy who tells everyone what to do – to the point of not letting others play – is a common source of contention. Critics, players and designers alike often debate about its implications and what steps can be taken to curtail it.
However, I believe the alpha player is but a symptom of deeper issues.
If I were a game designer, I would like to make a game like Innovation. Inside its small package, lies a clever civilization game where each card has its own ludicrous effect. It’s the kind of title I would be happy to play a hundred times and whose chaotic nature only furthers my enjoyment.
Tragedy Looper, Bakafire’s game of time travel, is getting new editions this year. This is great news as it’s an excellent game with a unique premise. However, the German publisher, Frosted Games, will not maintain the original setting. According to their podcast, they’ll move away from the anime artstyle and replace it with a Western one.
I believe this is a serious mistake. To westernize Tragedy Looper is to deny its whole identity.
There are countless games based on the world’s most famous sleuth but none as great as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. With just a book, a list of addresses and a bunch of newspapers, it captures the whole spirit of the Victorian investigator and reflects it, not just through its setting, but its mechanics.
Now subtitled “The Thames Murders & Other Mysteries”, it remains the best deduction game I’ve ever played and, despite some minor flaws, a truly engrossing experience.